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April 26, 2023

Man, woman plotted killing of teacher at Dunkin' drive-thru in Cheltenham, prosecutors say

Rachel King was taking her 11-year-old son to violin practice she was killed. One of the two defendants charged is her boyfriend's ex

Investigations Homicides
Rachel King Shooting Cheltenham Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Zakkee Alhakim, 33, of Philadelphia, and Julie Jean, 34, of Elkins Park, are each charged with homicide, conspiracy and related offenses in King's death. King's 11-year-old son was in the backseat of the car at the time of the shooting.

A North Philadelphia teacher who was fatally shot in Cheltenham earlier this month was allegedly targeted by a man and a woman who conspired to kill her over her relationship with her longtime boyfriend, Montgomery County prosecutors said.

Rachel King, 35, of Elkins Park, was killed on the morning of April 11 as she sat in her car in the drive-thru of the Dunkin Donuts at the Melrose Shopping Center at Front Street and Cheltenham Avenue, police said.

King, a teacher at Grover Cleveland Elementary School, was taking her 11-year-old son to violin practice when a man approached the driver's side of her SUV and fired through the window multiple times, police said. King's son was unharmed in the shooting. The gunman fled the shopping center in a silver Mercury Sable.

On Wednesday, authorities identified the alleged gunman as Zakkee Alhakim, 33, of Philadelphia. He allegedly plotted the shooting with Julie Jean, 34, of Elkins Park, who had been involved in an affair last year with King's boyfriend, William Hayes, prosecutors said.

When Hayes broke off the affair with Jean, he and King decided to remain together, but Jean persisted in trying to be a part of Hayes' life, authorities said. The harassment led Hayes to get court-ordered protection from Jean, who allegedly became vengeful against King. Alhakim is connected to Jean as the cousin of the father of her three children.

The same day King was killed, Philadelphia police arrested Alhakim in connection with an unrelated homicide in North Philadelphia on April 7. During that shooting investigation, police found surveillance footage showing the same Mercury Sable that was later linked to the Cheltenham shooting four days later.

Alhakim tried to flee from Philadelphia police and crashed the car into a utility pole, authorities said. He was charged with homicide for the shooting of 35-year-old James Farrell, who was struck multiple times outside of a beer distributor at 5100 N. Broad St.

Alhakim MugshotSource/Montgomery County DA's Office

Zakkee Alhakim

Investigators determined that the Mercury Sable had been purchased in Jean's name for $1,500 on March 30. She and Alhakim had been together at the car dealer in Philadelphia, prosecutors said.

Text messages between Jean and Alhakim showed that the pair allegedly began planning to kill King in mid-February, police said. Alhakim's phone had photos of King and a Google Maps image of King's apartment complex in Elkins Park, including a red arrow that showed a path to her home, investigators said. Another photo allegedly showed Jean's hand holding her own phone, which displayed a picture of King.

Jean and Alhakim did not have direct personal relationships with King, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said at a press briefing Wednesday.

"A truly innocent woman (was) targeted in a long-planned murder, all because of an ended affair," Steele said.

Hours after King was killed, Jean allegedly sent Alhakim a message on CashApp that included a $5 payment and instructions for the two of them to meet up without their phones, prosecutors said.

Julie Jean MugshotSource/Montgomery County DA's Office

Julie Jean

Bullet casings from the scenes of both the North Philly and Cheltenham shootings were linked to a privately-made ghost gun, which has not been recovered but was found pictured among the photos on Alhakim's phone, investigators said. Authorities used a national ballistics database recently adopted by detectives in the Philly suburbs to match the casings from both shootings.

"This is the first significant match that has come from this new system that we have," Steele said, calling the database and its forensic technology a significant step forward for crime solving.

King, who taught at Grover Cleveland Elementary for 10 years, was remembered by family, students and school staff as a devoted educator, mother and friend. The school in Nicetown-Tioga, which is part of the Mastery Charter School network, held a memorial in King's honor earlier this month.

"She just loved life. She loved living," her brother, Allen King Jr., told FOX29 after the shooting. King Jr. described Rachel and her son as best friends.

"Our hearts are hurting, but we also believe this — in time, they will be healed and we will move forward with our grandson," Carol King, Rachel's mother, said Wednesday.

"We want justice done," Allen King Sr., Rachel's father, said. "We want it done swiftly. We want it done accurately. And we want it done fairly."

Alhakim and Jean are each charged with homicide, conspiracy and related offenses in King's death.